American Land Rush

Happening before our eyes, in warp speed, as this article from New Geography reports,

An excerpt.

“The Great American Land Rush of 2020 is underway in many metro areas across the country. Large numbers of American workers are untethered from a central office. As a result many are moving to less dense areas with less expensive land (and homes) and more of both. The greater New York City and Los Angeles metros are the hardest hit. Take NYC where single-family residential land per acre is 24 times as expensive in the densest quintile of zip codes as compared to the least dense quintile ($3.06 million vs. $129,000).  But most large metros are experiencing intra-metro movement to less dense and less expensive areas.

“For the first time, we are able to empirically measure this land rush within metro areas by using high frequency loan transaction data combined with land prices at fine levels of geography.

“COVID-19 has been the catalyst for this Land Rush. First is the unprecedented shift to working from home. At-home workers are highly educated, with above average incomes and a tendency to live in large, coastal urban areas, especially New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Boston.  An estimated 42 percent of the 155 million U.S. labor force is working from home full-time during the pandemic, up from 5.2 percent in 2017.  Business leaders and employees think increased levels of remote work is here to stay. Post-pandemic, the share of days spent working at home is expected to increase fourfold, from 5 percent to 20 percent. And will likely be even higher in large coastal metros. In a recent survey that asked home buyers what they want, these 6 answers accounted for 90 percent of the responses: more space to work, more space, a bigger yard, more recreational space, more home learning space, and a less expensive home. If working from home is an option: a more spacious, less expensive home on more land and further away from traditional job centers addresses all six.

“Second, these same coastal urban areas have benefited from agglomeration benefits due to economies of scale and network effects. Think of it as a gravitational pull that has allowed them to grow bigger and bigger economically. But they are also known for sky high state and local taxes, housing and land costs. These act to counter the favorable gravitational forces and are largely self-inflicted wounds. They are the result of choices made, including excessive land use regulations that make land both expensive and scarce, high public pensions, burdensome business regulations, and in some cases, rent control. As long as employers required knowledge workers to work centrally, these workers (and employers) were willing to put up with being poorly treated.

“Decades ago Walter Wriston (Citibank CEO from 1967 to 1984) had this insight: “Capital goes where it’s welcome and stays where it’s well treated.” Areas will find that their financial and human capital will flee if not treated better.”

Retrieved September 2, 2020 from

Be well everyone!

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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